Novel Cleaning Technologies

The project assembled the full supply chain from film supplier to device fabricator. The targets were to identify types and source of debris, technologies to clean films, and hence significantly reduce failure rates and reprocessing costs.

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The printable electronics industry, forecast to be worth $300bn by 2020, relies on the use of extremely thin layers of electronically active ingredients (1/​10th of a human hair). The presence of small particles or dust or debris adversely impacts upon these coatings, giving pin-holes and breaks in the surface with subsequent costly failures in the final devices.

The purpose of the project was to develop the supply chain capability to provide defect free film surfaces for the manufacture of displays.

Introduction

The printable electronics industry is forecast to grow at an enormous rate but faces some serious technical hurdles. Based upon the deposition and patterning of thin layers (10200nm) on a flexible thin film polymer substrate, the presence of debris or defects on the substrate surface causes short circuits and breaks in electrical connections leading to failures in the final device. The project assembled the full supply chain from film supplier to device fabricator. The targets were to identify types and source of debris, technologies to clean films, and hence significantly reduce failure rates and reprocessing costs.

Project Achievements

  • Modelled linkage between surface debris and its effects on electronic devices
  • An understanding of cleaning efficacy which supported the launch of Teknek’ s world leading Nanocleen substrate cleaning process.
  • A company-wide incentive to improve cleaning of film substrates from process to packaging, helping to build a sustainable market position in the high-value flexible electronics market area.
  • Strong collaborator partnerships created to reduce particulate contamination
  • The development and commissioning of an innovative £300k metrology tool to enable identification of sub-micron particles (0.02μm) over large areas. (400400mm)
  • Modifications to an existing e‑device fabrication line to improve cleaning and device yields.

Partners

  • CPI
  • DuPont Teijin Films
  • Technology Strategy Board
  • Plastic Logic
  • Teknek